The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) has held a virtual launch of its Vaccine Development Research Hubs. This took place on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.
The Obafemi Awolowo University has produced educational handbills in English and the local Yoruba language to support efforts at providing the general public with credible and fact-based information on the pandemic.
At the university, several notable efforts have gone into the production of personal protective equipment, innovative tools for patient management and treatment therapies. For instance, the 3D printing laboratory of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stellenbosch University has been repurposed to print and assemble much-needed visors for front-line workers. Also, food scientists made 18 litres of alcohol-based hand sanitiser from stale bread crumbs in an in-house fermentation tank.
At the University of Ghana, scientists have successfully sequenced the genomes of the coronavirus in Ghana. The feat, which was achieved through the collaborative effort of scientists from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP), represents an important milestone in understanding the variations of the virus and has already been shared on the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database. The Noguchi Memorial Institute, which is one of the two facilities initially designated for testing the Coronavirus remains Ghana’s primary testing facility for all suspected COVID-19 cases, accounting for over 80 percent of tests nationally. The University of Ghana also has a new 617-bed medical facility which has been designated as one of the COVID-19 care centres in Ghana.
The University of Dar Es Salaam has gone into the mass production of automatic handwashing machines following work done a final year Electrical Engineering Coet in 2019. The University is also reported to be in the final stages of obtaining approval for the mass production of hand sanitizers and masks while multi-disciplinary research on the efficacy of traditional medicine for treatment is also underway.
A team from different departments and faculties at the University of Ibadan have produced hand sanitisers to address shortages on the market as well as provide a low-cost option for the university community.
The University of Nairobi has been selected to play a leading role following the selection of Kenya, the WHO as a testing site for vaccine trials. A team of virus specialists from the University constitute a National Task Force. Also, to support public education on the pandemic, the University has initiated a public blog and Webinar Series on COVID-19 which highlight preventive measures and offer options to deal with various COVID-19 related social challenges.
The Makerere University is engaging on several fronts regarding the provision of medical equipment, test kits and personal protective equipment. For instance, the School of Public Health at the University of Makerere is collaborating with the Kiira Motors Corporation and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) under the Resilient Africa Network (RAN) Project to develop Open Design Low-Cost Ventilators to meet local demand. Already, engineering tests for the device, which will cost less than a third of the market price of imported ventilators, have been completed successfully and if animal-tests are successful, application to patients can commence. Uunder the same RAN project, large scale production of Epidemic Management Tent (EpiTent) has begun. The low-cost tents, which are accredited by the WHO and USAID, have a capacity of 50 patients and will be used to isolate COVID-19 patients.
A team from the Sterile Products Laboratory in the Faculty of Pharma in the Rhodes university was compelled to initiate the production of WHO-credited hand sanitizers to meet its own needs and that of hospitals and facilities within the province when its suppliers failed to deliver.